On 22 November 1963, Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World and other striking works, passed away quietly in his home. He’d asked to be injected with LSD on his deathbed. His second wife, Laura Huxley, would be the one to carry out the task. She would later write of those strange moments in a letter to Aldous’s older brother Julian and Julian’s wife Juliette, dated 8 December 1963. Though Laura would later write and talk openly about having given Aldous LSD on his deathbed, at the time she wrote this letter she was apprehensive of sharing any details beyond Huxley’s inner circle of family and friends.
“’I am going to give him a shot of LSD, he asked for it.’ The doctor had a moment of agitation because you know very well the uneasiness about this drug in the medical mind. Then he said, ‘All right, at this point what is the difference.’ Whatever he had said, no ‘authority,’ not even an army of authorities could have stopped me then. I went into Aldous’ room with the vial of LSD and prepared a syringe. The doctor asked me if I wanted him to give him the shot—maybe because he saw that my hands were trembling. His asking me that made me conscious of my hands, and I said, ‘No I must do this.’ I quieted myself, and when I gave him the shot my hands were very firm.”
A reminiscence of Aldous’ final work, Island, characterized his final moments on this planet. His utopian novel Island served as a utopian counterpoint to his prophetic dystopia of Brave New World. Island proposed a visionary solution to the problems posed in the dystopia, by illustrating how Buddhist philosophy and psychedelic adventures in consciousness could help make a better society through the healing initiation rituals offered by means of “moksha medicine.”
Laura Huxley continues: “All five people in the room said that this was the most serene, the most beautiful death. Both doctors and the nurse said they had never seen a person in similar physical condition going off so completely without pain and without struggle.”